Five Things You MUST Do On a New PC
A brand-new computer is something to get excited about. It’s tempting to plug it in and just start exploring. But a new computer requires some initial fine-tuning in order to optimize performance and avoid problems later on. Here are five things every user should do to a new desktop or laptop PC as soon as it comes out of the box...
Optimize Your New PC
Job One is security. Antivirus software is a must on any PC, but the trial versions of Norton or McAfee that come preinstalled on new PCs are overpriced resource hogs. In fact, you don't need to pay for anti-virus software at all! Download one of the many free and very capable antivirus packages I have described over the years.
See Free AntiVirus Software for a list of options and download links. Uninstall the trial antivirus that came with your PC, then install the free package.
I also recommend that you download a free utility program called MalwareBytes Anti-Malware, or MBAM for short. Run MBAM once a month or so, just in case your anti-virus program misses something. No security software is perfect, so a second look with an on-demand scanner like MBAM will help to keep you safe.
Next step: Getting rid of bloatware. Bloatware (sometimes called crapware) is not malicious software. Rather, it's the term for all those unnecessary utilities and trial software that computer vendors are paid to load onto each new PC they ship. Many of these nuisances load automatically at startup, slowing your PC and annoying you with reminders to try them out. Essentially, they’re just advertisements that you pay to be annoyed by.
PC Decrapifier is a free utility that scans your hard drive for hundreds of bloatware programs and uninstalls them automatically. Alternatively, Revo Uninstaller will remove any program that Windows’ Add/Remove Programs feature can’t handle. See How to Clean Up Your Hard Drive for links to these free utilities, and be sure to read the note on avoiding a potential snafu when downloading.
Keeping your operating system and application software up to date is also essential. Security patches are issued regularly by Microsoft, and these improvements are not really “optional.” Make sure Windows is set to download important updates automatically (it usually is on new PCs) and enable automatic updates on all application software that has such a feature.
You might be surprised to learn that some of the application software pre-loaded on your computer is outdated or needs critical security patches. See my article, The Missing Link in Computer Security for further discussion of automatic updates and other ways to keep your new PC secure.
Taking inventory of your PC’s hardware and software can help you diagnose problems, get better tech support, and possibly even save you untold grief and piles of money. Belarc Advisor and Speccy are two free utilities that scan your system and report everything you may need to know. My article What's Going On Inside My PC? gives you the scoop on where to find these programs, and details on how they can help.
Making regular backups of user data and system settings is a good habit that starts from day one. As soon as your PC is tweaked the way you want it, make a full image of your hard drive and store it in a safe place. Thereafter, automatic backups of critical data that changes over time can be set up on whatever schedule makes sense for you. Hard drive failure, viruses, fire, flood and human error can wipe out critical data, and if it happens to you a backup copy of your files will be a lifesaver. See my article, Hard Drives Are Not Forever for a discussion of backup strategies and options.
And don't forget that not all your data is stored on your computer's hard drive. Do you have a plan to back up and recover your online data, including webmail, cloud storage, Facebook, Twitter, online photos and other social media? What about the contacts and other data stored on your mobile phone or tablet? My ebook Everything You Need to Know About BACKUPS will show you how to protect yourself from any kind of data disaster.
That's my list of five things you should take care of when you get a new computer. But it's been said that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. So a healthy dose of awareness and vigilance will go a long way toward keeping you and your computer free of trouble while interacting with the Internet. With that in mind, I encourage you to read these five articles next:
- Would You Click on This?
- How to Detect and Defeat Keyloggers
- Don't Fall Victim to Scareware
- Security Tip: Two-Factor Authentication
- Avoid These Five WiFi Security Mistakes
A few hours spent up front tweaking a new PC and preparing for the future, can save days of suffering when something goes wrong, as it inevitably will. Think of all this preventative maintenance as similar to a car’s breaking-in period. Do it with every new PC and you'll save yourself time and money.
Do you have other ideas about how to optimize a new PC? Post your comment or question below...
Posted by Bob Rankin on 24 Dec 2013
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Five Things You MUST Do On a New PC (Posted: 24 Dec 2013)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved